earthship brighton

I first stepped into an earthship in the weeks running up to the start of building earthship brighton

This was back in 2003, when we had pulled together project funding, planning permission and the new organisation, the Low Carbon Trust, it felt like time for a reality check.  We were about to start building – to really put the ideas of ‘low carbon’ building and living on the map.  And everything about earthships felt right to me.  Innovative, low cost, low carbon, low impact and just plain ‘doable’ by our diverse team.

The Earthship is probably the model of a sustainable home unrivaled in the modern world – David Pearson

So the final stages of planning took place in Taos, New Mexico, at the Greater World earthship community where Michael Reynolds and his ‘biotecture’ earthship building crews live and work.

We had sent George and Sally out to learn building techniques from Mike Reynolds a few months before, so I pitched in with them in one of the rental earthships out on the mesa near the New Mexico town of Taos.  George picked me up from Albuquerque and when we walked into their new desert home, in the double digit below freezing depths of the night, it was warm.  Very warm.  And no fossil fuelled or grid dependent heating for miles.  Reality checked.  We were on the right track.

Sustainable building depending on design choices in terms of architecture, systems and materials

Some natural buildings are mainly defined by choice of material.  Cob building, for example, can be used to build beautiful homes using earth from the site, but often with limited integration of appropriate systems.  Other approaches can be more holistic, non more so than earthships.

I first came across earthships in the mid 90’s – a ‘natural building’ approach that seemed to excell across the architecture / system / material design spectrum, and I decided I wanted to build. By 2000, I was running CLevel with Alex Leeor and Ben Messer,  doing some of the first carbon management work in the UK, and we wanted to orchestrate an ultra low carbon build project.

Earthship Brighton

We invited Michael Reynolds to the UK to talk about earthships.  Michael came to Brighton and presented his work and his vision.  The interest generated was enough for us to decide to work together to build a prototype earthship in Brighton.  Paula Cowie was working on plans for one in Scotland, and these would be the first adaptations of this building form to Europe.  We needed to open up the project to all the people who saw its significance, and so the Low Carbon Trust was formed. This was 2001.

After a lot of sheer graft, fundraising and orchestration, working closely with the US biotecture teams, and with funders and businesses that saw potential in the ideas we presented, we delivered the prototype earthship brighton on the south downs. parental security  Easily accessable, and very much flying a flag as one of the most complete ‘forms’ of natural building available.

Earthship Homes

To take things further, we pulled together funding and lead a professional team through a feasibility study to look at using earthship brighton as a prototype for a housing development.  This was successfully completed and lead onto us securing full planning permission for a 16 unit earthship housing development on land overlooking the Marina.  This was now 2007.

Since then many more earthships have been built all over the world, and I went on with my partner and a great team to build and live in the Brittany Groundhouse. Lisa and Oscar built in Spain, Sweden and Holland have all had their first works.


  • 25th May 2015 at 4:45 pm

    i would like to know, what became of the project for the housing developement of 16 Earthships overlooking Brighton Marina?
    What a phenomenal project ..what is requireded to fulfill this?

  • 26th May 2015 at 12:49 pm

    hi chris, several factors delayed the project, particularly around the land availability, and it may be something that can still be reborn to benefit from recent experience and other projects that are in planning. It would take someone with a keen focus to drive forward on this providing the land is indeed now available…


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